Saturday, November 25, 2006

Uh...we've got a baby in the toilet!

Well not quite, but almost. Let me start at the beginning....

Friday began slowly with handover being rather muddled as morning staff were being run off their feet with three women labouring at the same time, and quite a number of postnatal mum's to care for. Being one midwife down, it took a while for the midwife in charge to decide how to divide up the rooms and make sure all bases were covered. After much debate about midwife, women ratios the shift began.

Sarah* was happy to have a student with her so when the morning staff left we went to be with Lauren* who'd been in labour since the morning, this was her first baby, and we'd been told she was 9 cm dilated.

The room was dim, Lauren propped up on the bed with lots of pillows, her partner Dan* sitting beside her, quietly holding her hand. She was using the gas and as each contraction came she'd take two or three deep breaths on the mouth piece and work with her breath for the rest, holding the mouth piece between her teeth and blowing out through the nozzle but sucking in fresh air. She was so rhythmical... I think the constant sound of blowing out on the nozzle and hearing the valve was a focusing point for her.

Sarah and I spoke little, there was no need as Lauren was in her own space, very controlled, working with her body. Dan hardly spoke a word, he was just there, a good presence. Sarah and I simply felt contractions every now and again, offered Lauren water, kept the facewasher on her head cold, checked the baby's heart rate and sat or squatted beside the bed focused on Lauren's face.

As time goes on in my midwifery training I find, when sitting for any length of time watching labouring women, that I adapt their breathing pattern, a softer version, but at the same rate - strange.

When we'd been with her a short while Lauren mentioned she felt pressure and wanted to push, Sarah encouraged her to breathe through to give the cervix time to fully dilate until she really couldn't breathe through anymore and began pushing involuntarily. So Lauren did, she breathed like I've seen no one breathe before. Occasionally at the height of contractions I could hear her voice change to sound like a push, but only for an instant and then she'd be right back to sucking in her air and breathing out on the nozzle. Sheeuuch, phwuooh, sheeuuch, phwuooh, sheeuuch, phwuooh.

After about ninety minutes of watching her breathe and hearing the slight catch in her breath become stronger, Sarah suggested to Lauren that emptying her bladder would be good so the baby would have room to really come down well. As soon as Lauren sat down on the toilet, she began to push strongly. Being a first time Mum, Sarah and I expected that things would take a while to really get happening... were we ever wrong!

There was a knock on the door, Lauren's Mum was on the phone. Amazing how mothers often suddenly want to contact their daughters when their girls are birthing! It happens a lot. Dan ducked out to let her know that Lauren had just started pushing. As he went Sarah decided to get the torch and have a look to see what was going on with Lauren's perineum as it had been quite swollen last time we'd checked. Sarah clicked the torch on then off suddenly saying, "Laura, get Dan! We've got 5 cm of head on view!" I dashed out the door, and hurried Dan back in the room.

Lauren stood up and waddled a few meters to the bed as I pulled on some gloves. As she sat, a perfect head emerged gently and we waited a good three minutes for the next contraction to birth the body (it felt like a very long time to me). I had my hands gently near the baby's head but not on and with the next push expected baby to slide out easily. Nothing happened as Lauren began pushing so Sarah and I had to firmly try help bub's anterior shoulder slip down and out. The baby came without too much fuss and we placed the little girl up on mum's chest. She breathed well and within minutes was nuzzling mum's breast and soon sucking away like a little machine.

Dan and Lauren simply sat in awe of their little girl, while Sarah and I breathed a sigh of relief that the baby hadn't been born in the toilet bowl, and then marveled at how Lauren had been breathing her baby down and out. Just awesome!

Saturday, November 18, 2006


All you faithful blog readers, who ever you may be, I've been away from my computer for the last week, and will be away on and off for the next two and a bit weeks while finishing my placement at Casey Hospital. Hopefully that explains why it's been quiet on the blogging front. Yes, I know my blogging can be sporadic even when I'm close to my internet connection.... but at the moment there are a lot of posts waiting to be spit out. So while I'm staying up with my grandparents home to cut down driving time to and from hospital, I'm hoping to put some of them onto paper so my thoughts don't flutter away.

BTW, did I mention that I heart Casey Hosptial! It's been so refreshing to be in a hospital which actually appreciates and trusts women's birthing bodies, and doesn't have epidurals on tap! Caesars are not available for social reasons, only emergencies. It does wonders to a woman's chance to have a normal vaginal birth, and positive birth experience. I've never seen waterbirth advocated so much by a maternity ward..... those baths are beautiful!

I think it will be a battle to get a placement at Casey in third year. From all the talk amongst the girls just about everyone is putting in a preference for Casey, I'll be putting mine in too! I will be a happy woman if I never step inside of a private hospital maternity ward ever again (... so sorry France Perry).

I haven't actually seen any births at Casey yet. I've been with a number of labouring women and have even stayed overtime hoping to be there for the end but everyone is birthing outside my shifts - but I have three more weeks to go still, and the experience so far has been invaluable.

Stories will be coming!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Tree of Life

Thoughts about my babies placenta's often flit through my head. Yes, slightly strange I know, since I don't actually have babies of my own yet or any tangible placentas to go with them. But I think of them none the less, enough for me to say that placentas are fascinating things.

One of my most enjoyable 'mundane' tasks to complete on clinical placement is to check placentas. Healthy, fresh placentas are a work of God's creativity. Heavy with blood, and warm too, they remind me of their amazing job, to nourish and sustain a precious life for nine months! They are a marvelous thing, so I enjoy checking them, checking to see it is intact and complete, eyeing off the blood vessels making sure there are no odd ones trailing along the side indicating perhaps the placenta had an extra lobe, separating the two membranes, and looking at the cord insertion.

When I have babies, (God please bless me with them!), I would like my third stage of labour to be physiological, leaving the cord un-cut until the placenta has been birthed so I can see the baby/placenta unit together. If you go here there is a birth story told with photos, one photo shows the baby and placenta joined - please note the birth is quite graphically captured. So often I think many women view the placenta as 'theirs', rather than an extension of their children - which is why I want to see my children still attached, just so I can sit in awe of what God has made to nurture them along the nine months of their growing.

And then just to be artistic, I would like placenta prints, like the one in the picture above, showing how the placenta fans out beautifully looking the Tree of Life. And what then? Well it will be buried... a nice spot for a tree to grow later.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Birth Week

I'm counting sleeps till next week.... Birth Week. A group of midwives, doulas and women have put together a five day seminar program for mothers, pregnant women, midwives, partners and support people, about birth and all things birth related up at Kallista Mechanics Hall - fifteen minutes from my place none the less! Most of the sessions have a $10 donation fee and include moring tea, afternoon tea or supper. The hall will be open all day inbetween sessions with information and resources. I'll be trying to get to as many sessions as possible in between my exams on the 9th an10th.

Kallista Mechanics Hall, Church St. Kallista

Wedneday 8th November

  • 9.30am Opening
  • 9.45-11.45am A 'Birthwork' Circle: Looks at working with natural birth, intuitive birth wisdom, knowledge and skills.
  • 1-3.30pm 'The Big Stretch': Film screening and discusion about natural birth, using your body and breath to assist labour
  • 7.30-10.30pm Birth Stories: Listen to women share their stories, and share yours. Women only.

Thursday 9th November

  • 9.30-11.30am Enhancing Birthing Potential - Part 1: Exploring current birth culture, choice of care-giver, place of birth, intervention rates and their affect on birth.
  • 1-3.30pm Enhancing Birthing Potential - Part 2: Exploring the impact of the physical, emotional and psychological on birth potential.
  • 7.30-10.30pm Birth Stories: Listen to women share their stories, and share yours. Women only.

Friday 10th November

  • 9.30-11.30am Homebirth & Waterbirth: Answering questions about homebirth and waterbirth, followed by a waterbirth video.
  • 1-4pm Creative Art Workshop - Trusting Your Body: Explore and create with clay, drawing and words. Faciltated by a menstrual educator.
  • 7.30-10.30pm Fathers Circle: Men share stories about the birth of their children. Men only.

Saturday 11th November

  • 9.30-11.30am Breech Birth - Open Forum: Discussion about breech birth, how to face fears, make empowered choices, and find support.
  • 1-2.30pm VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean): Presenting important information about VBAC, make an informed choice.
  • 2.30-4.30pm Meet the Midwives and Doulas/Birth Attendants: Come meet local care-providers who respect pregnancy as a normal part of life.
  • 7.30-9.30pm 'Birth Rites' Film Screening: A film comparing Outback birth issues to the icey regions of Artic Canada.

Sunday 12th November

  • 9.30-11.30am Rites of Passage - Mother Blessings: Looking at ways to honour and nuture the journy of motherhood with beauty and ceremony.
  • 1-3pm Placentas & Lotus Birth: Answering questions about Lotus birth and placentas and discussing cultural practices following birth.
  • 3pm Closing

I'm really looking forward to the session on placentas... they facinate me. Have a bit of a read about them at Navelgazing Midwife and check out the comparison photos of a healthy and not so healthy placenta.